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Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Montevallo AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Montevallo AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Montevallo AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Montevallo AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Montevallo AL area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Montevallo AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Montevallo AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.